Dark Days and Light Bulbs


 We’ve all been through dark days. It’s an inevitable part of living with a disability. And I don’t mean the (often circumstantial) depression that befalls many of us for a period after a sudden, traumatic injury, the one that leaves us reeling in shock, the reality of not being able to do things like we used to. I’m talking about the dark days when everything just becomes too much or when things go wrong like a care assistant not pitching for work or a sudden bladder or bowel issue. It not only messes with your body, but it messes with your head, stripping you of your usual positive attitude. Dark days can creep up on you sometimes, uninvited and unexpected, and leave you feeling drained, too tired to fight the demons in your head. For me, mind wars are a daily struggle. However, it’s important to have spare light bulbs to help you through the darkness.

Some choose to ignore the dark days and keep busy. Others like to wallow in self-pity and stay in bed for a few days. However you choose to deal with it is your choice. But the important thing is that you are able to pick yourself up again and move on.

I usually have a good cry and then pray. Ask for help but also be grateful. Many are denied the opportunity of a second chance at life. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “I can do this.” You are brave and strong, otherwise you would never have survived this long.

Take a bath or shower, even if it’s only a bucket of water over your head. There’s no better feeling than having clean hair and a fresh body. Put on your best clothes. Every day is special.

Listen to music. Pump up the volume. Sing. Dance. Even if it’s only in spirit.

Escape in a good story. Find a movie. Read a book. Listen to a podcast or audiobook. There are hundreds of sites where you can stream or download free.

Write. It’s cathartic. Bleeding onto a page or computer screen helps to get it all out and process your feelings more objectively.

Exercise. Do what you can. Even passive exercise gets the feel good endorphins going.

Get out of the house. Cabin fever is real. If you don’t have transport, get out of the house. Sit in the sun. Listen to the birds. Smell the roses. Watch the clouds. Be still. Silence isn’t always empty. Sometimes it’s full of unexpected answers.

Find a companion, even if it’s a dog or another pet. They’re a huge source of comfort. Having a pet and being responsible for their well-being is a great distraction.

Pamper or spoil yourself. Bribe somebody to give you a head or neck massage. Buy yourself a treat. Chocolate and bubbles are my best.

Plan an adventure. Something to look forward to helps keep the calendar interesting. Adrenaline is a great motivator.

Get creative. Find something that stimulates your creative juices. It can be better than any therapy.

Stimulate your mind. Do a word or number puzzle.

Help somebody else, even if it’s just to listen. It does wonders for your self-worth.

Laugh. Humour is the best healer. Stand-up comedy on YouTube has kept me laughing for days.

Open up. Speak to a friend. Surround yourself with positive people. There are many support groups for your specific disability on social media. You are not alone.

If you can’t find a light bulb to get you through your darkness, get help. Go to your doctor or mental health practitioner. Depression is serious.

Never give up.

Lotus flower

A lotus flower pushes through the dark, murky water to seek the light.

Which light bulbs do you seek in your dark days?


About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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7 Responses to Dark Days and Light Bulbs

  1. Maureen Ferreira says:

    A great light bulb moment post Tracy – thank you – yes we all deal with everything our own way but we need to hear how others deal with things too, to help us change/charge our own bulbs again 🙂
    Our ladies of our neighborhood watch are helping to run a campaign – “I AM” together with our local crisis centre, saps, etc – the 16 days of activism against gender based violence will be a run up towards a 365 days of activism – do you mind if i share your ‘light bulbs’ – with credit to you offcourse! Please send me your postal address as I would like to send you, hubby and your 2 woolly kids some of our buffs.

  2. Job says:

    Had uncontrollably bowl while I was working at eskom n i had no colostomy n i use to cry in the bathroom and ask why my life is on this

    • Oh Job I know. I’ve also cried many tears about the indignity of a spinal-cord injury. It helped me when I stopped asking myself, “why me?” and started asking myself the question, “Why not me?” There are so many people in the world who are suffering in different ways. I guess we all have our own dragons to ride in life.

  3. Jennifer says:


  4. Shael Maree says:

    Tracy this is a wonderful post. It applies to everyone who has dark days and your practical suggestions are absolutely spot on! You really are an incredible woman and you never fail to inspire me. Have an exceptional week and I hope your dark days are far fewer than your bright days. Thank you for being so special to us!

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